A Christmas Rose:A Dusk Gate Chronicles NovellaBy: Breeana Puttroff
The Dusk Gate Chronicles
Book Four and One Half
WILLIAM PEEKED OUT THE window just in time to see Quinn stalking across the lawn toward the castle. Sighing, he hurried to finish re-shelving the books he’d been organizing, and he was waiting for her when she came in the door of their apartment.
Once she was inside, he helped her take off her cloak, pausing for a second to rub her rapidly rounding belly, and then taking her hands in his. He knew better than to immediately ask what was wrong.
“It’s getting cold out there,” he said, bringing her hands to his lips, trying to warm them. “We’ll have to ask Ruth to make you some gloves.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t even be going outside now? I might shiver or something and hurt the baby?”
He took a deep breath. “Did I say that?”
She closed her eyes. “No. Sorry. I know it’s not you.”
He waited for a few minutes while she calmed herself, putting more water in the tea kettle, and swinging the hook over the little fire that was nearly always crackling in their fireplace now that the weather was turning.
“Sophia again?” he asked, when she’d finally settled into one of the chairs by their little table under the window.
She nodded. “I wasn’t getting on the horse. I was just brushing her. I know we have servants for that. But I wanted to do it. I just wanted to spend some time with Dusk. She’s not going to kick me. And so what if I even did want to ride her a little – I didn’t – but why couldn’t I if I wanted to? Pregnant people ride horses all the time.”
Walking behind her, he pulled her hair back and and rubbed her shoulders. “I know, love. I told you already that I think it’s fine if you do those things. You’re just not going to get her to agree.”
“She makes me feel like I’m six years old and getting caught sneaking a cookie from the jar.”
“I know,” he said, kissing the top of her head and going to retrieve the whistling tea kettle from the fire. “Of course, she didn’t know you when you were six. Maybe she’s just making up for lost time?”
“I wish I could find that funny right now, Will.”
The tea kettle was still steaming as be brought it over to the table and set it down on a little iron trivet in the shape of the crest of Philotheum. “She really got to you.”
Quinn closed her eyes, taking several deep breaths before she opened them and started scooping tea from a tin into the infuser. “She thinks it’s a bad idea for me to travel to Eirentheos.”
His eyes widened. “Did she tell you she didn’t want you to go?”
“Does she ever just come out and say anything, Will? No, it was … ‘you know, when my friend Hazel was pregnant with her first baby, she rode in a carriage – even though I told her she shouldn’t – and her water broke’ … and ‘I know you’re just going to do what you want to do no matter what I say, but you should think about…’ I’ve never met anyone like her.”
“I have,” he said wryly. “My father has a sister who does some of the same things – Gavin’s mother, believe it or not.”
“I’m pretty sure I can believe that.”
“Yeah. My mother always makes sure to only invite her to gatherings where there are going to be a lot of people. Even so, she always manages to get some dig in. Something my mother should have planned better, or not allowed her servants or her children to do…”
“Well, I can’t exactly avoid Sophia, or only invite her to parties. She lives here.”
“I know, love.” He waited until she’d finished placing the infuser in the little ceramic teapot, and then he poured the steaming water from the kettle into it. “She is worried about the baby, you know. Maybe it’s her way of showing that she cares.” He wasn’t entirely convinced that was true – but making Quinn feel worse about it wouldn’t help anything.
“There’s no reason to be worried about the baby. Everything is fine. For seven moons, everything has been perfect.”
“And it’s going to stay perfect, love, but she’s a grandmother. She worries. You know, before her, there was a family history of trouble with pregnancy and babies.”
“Yeah…she might have reminded me about that once or a thousand times. And, I know, she thinks my mother being from another world means our baby might turn out to be an alien or something.”
He chuckled. “She doesn’t think that.”
“Yes, she does. Trust me; she saves the best stuff for when you’re not around.”